#WTF has a new meaning today

In case you missed the fireworks show off the coast of Sri Lanka this morning, the big news is that a hunk of space junk collided with Earth after falling from its highly elliptical orbit.  The object was named WT1190F back in October.  Scientists from NASA, ESA, IAC, SETI, and others have been prepared to study the object as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere.

When WT1190F struck this atmosphere over the Indian Ocean around 6:20 Universal Time (12:20 a.m. CST) today , it broke apart into multiple fireballs against the blue sky. The object came down around 1:20 p.m. local time. Credit: IAC/UAE Space Agency/NASA/ESA (credit: Universetoday.com)

When WT1190F struck this atmosphere over the Indian Ocean around 6:20 Universal Time (12:20 a.m. CST) today , it broke apart into multiple fireballs against the blue sky. The object came down around 1:20 p.m. local time. Credit: IAC/UAE Space Agency/NASA/ESA
(credit: Universetoday.com)

Scientists aboard a flying observatory were able to capture some images of the object breaking apart as it entered the atmosphere. Check out more photos and facts here.  No aliens invading us.  No impending doom from asteroid impact.  However, this event has given scientists more data on how objects break apart upon collision with the Earth and its atmosphere.

Check out the intense camera getup  used for observing this treat in the skies:

SETI Institute “staring cameras” used for wide field observations of the re-entry. Credit: IAC/UAE Space Agency/NASA/ESA

SETI Institute “staring cameras” used for wide field observations of the re-entry. Credit: IAC/UAE Space Agency/NASA/ESA

As it turns out, this hunk of junk is not the only object orbiting the Earth, aside from the satellites we purposefully send into orbit.  NASA states that there are more than 500,000 pieces of junk traveling around our planet, and at speeds up to 17,500 mph.  And our little #WTF is just one.  These objects provide something of an obstacle course for engineers and scientists when planning to launch missions into outer space.  More information can be found on NASA’s website, and this might be a fun topic to continue with more stories later on.  We will see.

Again I say: Eyes to the skies, folks.  It’s a great day to be an Earthling.

References:

Universtoday.com

NASA.gov

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